Carlton County Board OKs maximum price of $65.8 million for justice center

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved the guaranteed maximum price for the construction of its proposed justice center at $65.8 million.

Carlton County Transportation Building
The Carlton County Transportation Building.
Dylan Sherman / 2022 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — The Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved the guaranteed maximum price of $65.8 million in construction costs for its justice center, during a special meeting on Thursday, July 21.

The guaranteed maximum price is the most the county will pay for the project, unless they decide to make changes to the scope, as it has a construction manager at risk who would have to cover any costs over the agreed price.

Board Chair Gary Peterson said having the construction manager at risk really protects the county from any overages especially during a time when inflation is high.

"That is why it is important to do our due diligence and make sure we are planning very good," he said.

Peterson added that it was a team effort to get to this point where the county is formally moving forward with the project.


It was important for the county to plan and do its homework on the project, according to Peterson, as it is the most expensive project in the history of the county.

"It is lots of years of study and trying to do the best thing possible," he said. "We have to think about the future too ... and make sure that we do it right."

Peterson reaffirmed the need for the new justice center as the old courthouse was not built to modern standard or for technology when it was built in the 1920s.

"We have to really be proactive, when they built that courthouse in (1922) it was not set up for the kind of security that we need for people to feel safe working there," he said.

The approved price is lower than than a proposed price of $68.7 million that was presented to the board on Monday, July 18 .

Jail Administrator Paul Coughlin said on Monday the county wanted to get the price as close to $66 million as possible.

"After going through and working with (Adolfson & Peterson and Klein McCarthy Architects) we were able to get back into the range we were looking for," he said.

Chief Justice Leslie Beiers, of Minnesota's 6th Judicial District, thanked the board for its work on the project.


"It will enable us to better serve justice to the citizens of the district," she said. "We look forward to our continued partnership."

According to the updated calendar provided with the county documents, construction will begin on Monday, July 25, with an anticipated completion date of late August 2024.

The county will also host a formal groundbreaking for the project during its regular meeting on August 22.

The Esko Fun Days Parade included floats from the all-class reunion, local businesses and other community organizations.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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